DJ Hero 2
That Activision is pouring out one sequel after the other isn’t a secret, but that sometimes one of those is actually innovating we see as a gift from God. DJ Hero was that fresh wind in the genre of music games. The monopoly of plastic guitars and drums was shattered by a trendy turntable. No more Metal or Rock, but a mash-up of R&B, Dance and Electro in DJ Hero.
Exactly one year ago DJ Hero was released. With its underground gritty look, original gameplay and great tracklist, it immediately made its footprint in the world of games. It will therefore surprise nobody that the gameplay remains largely unchanged in this sequel, but as that was already quite solid, you won’t hear us complaining about that. Again you need to mix two tracks, here called a mash-up, to a beautiful whole. Of course, there are some changes here and there.
The emphasis has been moved towards Freestyle and your own stuff. You’ll regularly see long parts passing by where you can choose which track will take the lead. Here you get judged on timing and rythm, punishing the fading left to right like an idiot. Next to that there are also freestyle scratches and random sound effects from the middle lane (the irritating Yeeeeaaahhh Booooyyyy) replaced by samples that originate from the track.
DJ Hero 2 also has a genuine career mode called Empire in which you start as a smalltime DJ in Ibiza to then conquer the world as the best DJ known to mankind. During your career you take on known celebrities like David Guetta, Deadmau5, Qbert and RZA. Personally I found the career to be a bit disappointing as it’s nothing more than an empty shell for unlocking several mixes. I would have preferred some possibilities that showed me to choose my own sponsor, buy some material, or set up my own event.
What the people from FreeStyleGames wanted to get is make DJ Hero 2 a social game. The addition of multiple instruments, two turntables and vocals, a party mix mode and a couple of new multiplayer modes are evidence of this. Rock Band and Guitar Hero have proven how enjoyable it can be to play with friends but with DJ Hero this didn’t work all too well.
The social push gets noticed especially in multiplayer. There’s ten different modes where you can take on an opponent. These include Checkpoint, Accumulator, Stream, and so on.. In Checkpoints each mash-up gets divided into checkpoints you need to win by getting as many notes correct as possible. In Accumulator, my personal favorite, you have to “bank” your highest streak, or record it. There’s some nice tactical depth hidden in this mode which will make it a bit more exciting than the others. Raise the bar higher or take the safe option.
DJ Hero has a lot of good stuff to offer and then we haven’t talked about the remixes yet. A lot of famous names from the music world have been asked for DJ Hero 2 and Tiesto, Deadmau5, Qbert, RZA and David Guetta are only a few of them. The result is a very royally filled tracklist with over 80 mash-ups going from underground hip-hop to boning hard techno.
DJ Hero 2 only had a year of development but as the foundations were good and didn’t need a lot of work, the game doesn’t have any nasty bugs or things missing. The added Freestyle sequences make you feel like a real “fake-DJ” and that’s what this game is all about! However, we do hope that Activision will learn from the sequel mistakes they made in the past and don’t see this as a start for yearly versions of DJ Hero.